Category Archives: Abstracts

An Artistic Look At Forest Flowers – Photo of the Week

This week’s Photo of the Week puts an artistic spin on shooting forest wildflowers. I just love wildflowers and can spend hours out with my camera, laying on my belly, fending off mosquitoes, while I find interesting and creative new ways to bring forest wildflowers to live in pixels.

This weekend I photographed wild Lily of the Valley. It’s a tiny plant, only a few inches high. But it is just as beautiful if not more beautiful than its cultivated cousin.

Click on the thumbnail below to see and read about the Photo of the Week.

 

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Filed under Abstracts, Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Nature, nature photography, Photo of the Week, plants, Wildflowers

Photo of the Week – Winter’s Shadows

This week’s Photo of the Week has been posted. I haven’t had a lot of time to get out with the camera. Hopefully soon! Especially since this is the time of year when we get more of those clear, sunny days with beautiful blue-hued late day sun.

Click on the thumbnail below to view 44th Parallel Photography’s Photo of the Week.

16 February 2013

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A new cover for my Flower Photography e-book

I’m happy to say that my e-book, “Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips, has a new cover! It’s the same great book, but with a zoomier cover. And, not only is it available for purchase on my 44th Parallel Photography website, but it is now available through the fabulous new Earth & Light digital media website.

 

The new cover for my e-book.

The new cover for my e-book.

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Filed under Abstracts, Creative Photography, Digital Photography, equipment, Flowers, learning, Macro photography, Nature, nature photography, Photo-impressionism, photography, plants, technique, Wildflowers

A Must See! James Balog’s, Chasing Ice documentary

Yesterday, I went with a friend to see James Balog’s famed documentary, Chasing Ice. It had already shown in Ottawa, but unfortunately I’d missed it. But thankfully it came back for a second showing and I made sure to see it. I just wish I’d had the time to get a bunch of people together to see it. As a scientist myself, it’s the kind of documentary I wish EVERYONE would see. The message in that documentary is stark and I think any climate change doubter would be hard-pressed to refute the visual evidence presented in Chasing Ice.

Click on the image above to visit the Chasing Ice website to see when the film is playing near you.

Click on the image above to visit the Chasing Ice website to see when the film is playing near you.

I know climate change is a very controversial topic – still. The acerbic debates over the existence of climate change seem to have died down. The number of scientist speaking out against the data, saying that climate change is bunk, has dwindled from a vocal minority to nearly none. I think the debate has shifted away from whether climate change is real to a focus on the causes of climate change. Those are two distinct questions.

Franz Josef glacier in south island New Zealand

Franz Josef glacier in south island New Zealand

Is climate change real? I don’t think it’s possible to refute this anymore, at least not with a cogent and reasonable argument. Enough data have been amassed to show the patterns. The problem is that the average person doesn’t relate to data. If science doesn’t get packaged into a form that is understandable and digestible by the general public, then (in my view) some of the value of that science is lost. As scientists, it is our job to ensure that the public can understand the results of our research and the implications for their lives.

Glacier ice and rubble - the soil, rocks and material that get dragged along at the glacier moves.

Glacier ice and rubble – the soil, rocks and material that get dragged along at the glacier moves.

I think James Balog’s idea of letting glaciers tell the story of climate change, through still images and videos is absolutely brilliant. Most people can’t relate to statistics on changes in carbon dioxide concentrations over time. Parts per million by volume means virtually nothing to the average person. But watching a chunk of glacier bigger than Manhattan break off and roll into the ocean is something we can all relate to. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words still rings true.

Have a look at this trailer to Chasing Ice. See the largest glacier calving ever recorded….

Click on the image above to see the video of the largest glacier calving event ever recorded.

Click on the image above to see the video of the largest glacier calving event ever recorded.

I hear people say that they either believe or do not believe in climate change and global warming. Climate change is not about belief. It is about science. It is about data that show that it exists. Religion is about beliefs. Science is not. Science is about understanding what the data tell us – is our global climate changing. I just can’t see how people can answer no to that question anymore. I’m middle aged – old enough to look back on the climate in the city I grew up in – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – and tell you that the climate here now is different then it was 40-some years ago. Yes, the changes have happened within my lifetime.

Vibrant blue of glacier ice at Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand

Vibrant blue of glacier ice at Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand

I think the bigger debate now is about the causes of climate change. Data have shown that the earth naturally goes through periods of climate change. Temperature and carbon dioxide concentration are highly positively correlated – in other words, they are tightly linked. As one goes up, so does the other. As one goes down, so does the other.

But the tools of science have allowed for the sampling of the earth’s atmosphere through the study of ice cores. An ice core is much like a tree ring. It captures changes over time. Where the width of a tree ring can tell us about the growing conditions during a given year, sampling the air bubbles trapped in an ice core can tell us about the nature of the earth’s atmosphere hundreds of thousands of years ago. But what the data show, is that since the Industrial Revolution, global carbon dioxide concentrations have spiked. Over the past 400,ooo years of the earth’s history, carbon dioxide concentrations have repeatedly been as high as 275 parts per million by volume (ppmv). But data show that the earth is currently far above that concentration and is on track to reach 400 ppmv, nearly double that of the natural cycles in the earth’s history. And when did this spike in carbon dioxide concentrations begin? It coincides with the Industrial Revolution.

Click on the thumbnail below to read about the data…

Chasing Ice data page

There are people who will argue that a correlation between the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the onset of rapid changes in carbon dioxide concentrations on earth are just that – correlations – and that one cannot attribute cause and effect through correlation. This is true. Correlation does not reveal definitive causation. This is why science relies on multiple lines of evidence – it’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together. In my view, we have enough pieces of the puzzle to tell us that global climate change is occurring and that humans have played a role in it.

Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand

Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand

Even for those who don’t accept the data – wouldn’t it be prudent to take actions to do what we can now, to curb carbon dioxide increases while we can? Does it make sense to wait until it’s too late to do something and then say, “oops, we were wrong, humans have played a significant role in changing the earth’s climate”?

If your carbon monoxide detector in your house started sounding you could hypothesize that it is sounding because of a fault in the device or that it is sounding because carbon monoxide levels in your house have reached a dangerous level. In that situation, would you not get family out of the house immediately – assume carbon dioxide is at dangerous levels that can kill quickly – get them to safety, rather than assume that the detector is malfunctioning and that it is giving you a false positive? The consequences to you and your family are too dire to assume the alarm is a false alarm. Carbon monoxide is odourless, tasteless and colourless – you can’t smell, taste or see it. So in those ways, it isn’t tangible. But it’s effects are – it can kill quickly.

How is global change any different from the analogy of your home carbon monoxide detector? Isn’t it prudent to act now and not assume that this is a false alarm? The difference between global climate change and the carbon monoxide example above is scale – temporal scale as we call it in science. In layman’s terms  – time. We can relate to the immediacy of the carbon monoxide situation. But for changes in global climate that occur over decades and the geographic scale of the entire globe, humans have difficulty relating to this scale – to changes over decades and over the entire globe. We relate far more easily to the scale of minutes and so our own surroundings; it’s just part of being human. But as humans, we also have the unique ability of foresight…

Now is the time to think of the consequences of our inaction. You may or may not experience catastrophic consequences of global climate change, depending on how old you are now and where you live.  But what kind of world do you want to leave for your kids, your grandkids, and great-grandkids? I think that is something we can all relate to – how our actions as a society will alter life for our kids and grandkids.

The consequences of being wrong about the causes of global climate change are too great not to do anything about it. I think the only ethical choice is to accept that human are having a very significant impact on global climate and to do something about it before we are past the point of doing anything except leaving our kids one hell of an environmental mess to mop up, courtesy of our current, short-sighted behaviour. I’m not saying it’s easy.  If it were easy, we’d already be well on our way to solving the problem. I think the key now is to identify ways that society can change its behaviour to reduce human impacts on the global environment. But change starts one person at a time….

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Not everyone will agree on the causes of global climate change. But  see Chasing Ice. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

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Filed under Abstracts, conservation, Conservation & Environment, Digital Photography, Landscape, Life's short...., Nature, nature photography, Opinion, Philosophy, photography

Beyond fair weather photography

This week’s Photo of the Week is of a distant island on a frozen lake, in the middle of a raging blizzard. I think the conditions made for a great photo. Composition is simple, there’s no distracting colour, and the ripples of the snow on the windswept lake offer some texture. The image IS in colour, not black and white. It’s just that there wasn’t any colour – not in the white out conditions I was in.

It’s not the first time I’ve been out in a raging blizzard making images. I don’t always get the opportunity to head out in those conditions. But when I do, I enjoy it. It allows for a whole suite of completely different creative opportunities than on most of my photo outings.

A cattail marsh in the midst of a raging blizzard. The only colour was from the dead cattails in the foreground. The conditions allow for simple compositions.

A cattail marsh in the midst of a raging blizzard. The only colour was from the dead cattails in the foreground. The conditions allow for simple compositions.

The image above is memorable as I stopped at the side of a quiet rural road, about 5 km from my house. It was just a really quick stop to grab an image that caught my eye and so I left the car running, the windshield wipers on the car were on full because the snowflakes were coming down big and heavy, the heat was on full blast and I had Christmas songs blasting on the CD player. My big 600 mm lens was in the back seat…. I pulled over to the side of the road so I could safely make my image. When I do this, I usually leave the car window open or the door ajar because I don’t trust self-locking vehicles. But the snow was coming down so heavy, I couldn’t leave the window open. And hey, I was only stopping for a minute to make a photo….

I got back to the car and the doors were locked. All of them! Even though the self-locking mechanism isn’t supposed to engage while the car is running, but is not in gear, well, my car didn’t read the manual. It was locked up tighter than a drum! So here I am, a few hours before dark, on a pretty isolated road, in the middle of nowhere, in a raging blizzard. Oh, and my cell phone was sitting on the front seat, along with my jacket and mitts. Luckily I was wearing a heavy sweater, skidoo boots and the temperatures were only just below freezing. But still…..

I had a choice – break one of the windows so I could get back in my car, or start walking toward home and hope like heck someone came by so I could flag them down. I wasn’t actually worried so much about the car, even though it was running, lights were on, etc. I was more worried about my 600 mm lens, sitting in the back seat and visible. Usually I have the seat belt on her and she’s covered. But today I was in a hurry. Taking shortcuts is always a bad idea…

So, I chose to walk. Fortunately, it was only about 10 minutes when  car came by. They had a cell phone. So I called my husband and had him bring the spare keys. So, a note to those with a self-locking vehicle. Don’t trust it! I now drive a car with manual only locks. I like that much better.

The view on my walk to get help.

The view on my walk to get help.

So, the moral of my story is definitely go out in this crazy weather and make images. Just do it safely. Driving conditions can be hairy and well, there are crazy things like auto-locks. But those aside, have fun with the creative conditions at hand.

The colours in this birch thicket caught my eye. I liked how the blowing snow muted those colours but also created a diagonal texture to the image.

The colours in this birch thicket caught my eye. I liked how the blowing snow muted those colours but also created a diagonal texture to the image.

An old barn off the road. The fence and dead grasses in the foreground contrast with the hazy view of the barn. The blowing snow gave the image some texture.

An old barn off the road. The fence and dead grasses in the foreground contrast with the hazy view of the barn. The blowing snow gave the image some texture.

Next blizzard or foggy day, I hope you get out with your camera. Most ‘normal’ people choose to stay inside when the weather is foul. But us photographers see the creative potential and so, instead of curling by the fire, we grab our gear and hit the road.

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Filed under Abstracts, Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Landscape, Nature, nature photography, Photo of the Week, photography, Winter

Photo of the Week – White Out

Ah, it’s good to be back and working on the Photo of the Week after a brief trip out west for work. When we flew out to Edmonton it took us nearly an extra hour (of an already nearly 4 hour flight) just because the headwinds were so extraordinarily strong! Nothing like battling the jet stream….

I think those winds landed here. Today, I’m sitting at the computer wondering if the roof will lift off or that I’ll feel like I was teleported into a colourized version of the Wizard of Oz as the house gets sucked off its foundation. Sheesh!

Our noisy, windy day today compelled me to post a photo taken last year at Sharbot Lake, but it actually looked pretty similar here an hour ago.

For me, this Photo of the Week illustrates that you can make some great images in the worst of weather. Being out in 70 km per hour winds and driving snow doesn’t feel good. But it can offer some pretty impressive and interesting photographic opportunities.

Click on the thumbnail below to have a look at this week’s Photo of the Week from 44th Parallel Photography.

20 January 2013

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Perils aside… let’s talk about passion

My last blog post, a few days ago, was about the perils of following your passion, whatever that may be. In the photography world, many of us would quit our ‘day jobs’ in a heartbeat, to become a full-time photographer. That doesn’t necessarily mean you hate your day job. It just means that you have a greater calling. It just means that there is something you are really, really passionate about and that you wish you could spend all your waking moments doing it.

Like I said before, for me, photography (and the things associated with my photography such as writing, conservation, environmental preservation, and connecting with people) is oxygen. Sure, I find it hard that I can only ‘breathe’ part time. 🙂 But let me tell you, it’s better than not breathing at all!

"You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands" - Chris Widener

“You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands” – Chris Widener

To reiterate what I said in my last blog post, read Malcolm Munro’s article on the perils of following your passion. Then dial that message back one or two turns. I wholeheartedly agree with Malcolm. You NEED to be a realist. But at the same time, don’t give up on your passion. And don’t become disillusioned. Just be realistic about what you can do given your current circumstances.

The key is: find a way to make it work. Might not be the way you first envisioned it. But this is life. We don’t always get what we want, when we want, in the way that we want. So, instead, tweak your expectations. Trim your sail. Refine your course. You WILL get there. It’s just that the path you take may very well be different from what you first envisioned. But that’s ok. It doesn’t make you any less successful at achieving your dreams.

"Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem - even to you - I don't care: You have to let that out" - Eleni Gabre-Madhin

“Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem – even to you – I don’t care: You have to let that out” – Eleni Gabre-Madhin

Oh, and one more thought…. don’t give a rats fuzzy bottom what anybody else thinks about your passion for photography (or whatever else it may be that you want to do – as long as it’s legal and ethical). You’re following your passion for YOU. Not for them. For you. In doing so, however, just ensure that you meet your responsibilities to yourself and your family. You know, the important stuff like mortgages, food, vehicles, utilities. It’s hard to process images in Photoshop when your electricity has been turned off due to non-payment.

I’m only a part-timer, but I feel like I’ve been around long enough to be developing a pretty healthy view of what the photography world is really like and that, typically, it takes a massive boatload of hard work and long hours to make a living as a photographer, especially in the field of nature or wildlife photography. But don’t let that stop you. Be persistent. Be positive. Be determined.

Here are a few more great quotes – fodder to fuel your drive to fulfill your passion…

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't fine them, make them." - George Bernard Shaw

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

"The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that's bigger than they are - that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth." - Richard Leider

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are – that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” – Richard Leider

"For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.... It's only be going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions." - Ira Glass

“For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work…. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” – Ira Glass

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." - Neil Gaiman

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman

"Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs

“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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Filed under Abstracts, conservation, Conservation & Environment, Creative Photography, Digital Photography, Dreams, learning, lessons learned, Life's short...., Nature, nature photography, Opinion, Philosophy, photography, Reflections, small business, Vision